Writing the Argument Essay: Moving from Planner to Drafting | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2B:U2:L16

Writing the Argument Essay: Moving from Planner to Drafting

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Long Term Learning Targets

  • I can write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence. (W.7.1)
  • With support from peers and adults, I can use a writing process to ensure that purpose and audience have been addressed. (W.7.5)
  • I can select evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research. (W.7.9)

Supporting Targets

  • I can analyze a model essay for a strong conclusion, transitions, and a formal style.
  • I can write an organized argument essay about Pygmalion.

Ongoing Assessment

  • Pygmalion Essay Planner (from homework)
  • Eliza Character Tracker
  • Pygmalion essay draft


AgendaTeaching Notes

1.  Opening

     A. Unpack Learning Targets/Review Homework (5 minutes)

2.  Work Time

     A. Model Essay: Conclusion, Transitions, Formal Style (20 minutes)

     B. Begin Essay Writing (15 minutes)

3.  Closing and Assessment

     A.  "One Thing I Learned Is ..."/Review Learning Targets (5 minutes)

4.  Homework

     A.  Complete the Pygmalion essay goal-setting sheet.

  • In this lesson, students look back at the model essay for some final analysis that will help them bridge the gap from the essay planner to the essay draft; in particular, how to write a conclusion, use transitions, and use a formal style. These three aspects of writing are specifications of CCLS Standard W.7.1. They are also present on the New York State Expository Writing Rubric (argument version), which students will use during drafting and teachers will use during grading.
  • The treatment of these three aspects of writing is brief in this lesson, giving enough information for students to be able to successfully move from the planner to the draft while also giving them actual drafting time. It may be useful or necessary to expand the treatment of these topics to full lessons, given the needs of your students.
  • Students then have flexible time in which to begin their drafting. Check the "Meeting Students' Needs" column for ideas on how to support struggling and/or advanced students during this drafting time. This 15-minute period leads into an entire period in Lesson 17 in which students will complete their drafts.
  • The draft will be assessed as Part I of the end of unit assessment. Part II is the final, revised version of the Pygmalion essay, which will also be assessed.
  • Consider posting a list of the resources available to help students write their essays:

-   Pygmalion Essay planner

-   Eliza Character Tracker

-   Reader's Notes

-   Model essay

-   Pygmalion text

  • During Work Time Part B, students have time to begin writing their essays. This lesson is written assuming the use of computers to draft the essays in order to make revisions in Lesson 20 easier.
  • Consider the setup of your classroom if you are using laptops. Because students can distract themselves on computers, think about positioning the desks so that it is easy to scan the screens throughout the lesson.
  • If your students are not familiar with expectations about computer use in the classroom, explain them at the beginning of Work Time.
  • If computers are not available to you, consider giving students more time to write by hand.
  • In advance:

-   Set up the classroom as needed, considering computer use.

-   Prepare and post the Transitions anchor chart.

  • Post: Learning targets.


conclusion, transitions, however, formal style, impoverished


  • Pygmalion (play; one per student
  • Transitions anchor chart (new; teacher-created)
  • Document camera
  • Pygmalion Model Essay: Alfred Doolittle, Same As Ever (from Lesson 15)
  • Model Essay: Transitions and Formal Style (for teacher reference)
  • Pygmalion essay goal-setting sheet (one per student)



A. Unpack Learning Targets/Review Homework (5 minutes)

  • Have students get out their Pygmalion Essay Planner that they revised for homework and Pygmalion texts, and then turn to a partner and discuss:

*   "What is one thing I learned from my peer critique yesterday?"

*   "What is one thing I changed on my essay planner because of my peer critique?'

  • Cold call two or three students for their answers.
  • Direct students' attention to the learning targets:

*   "I can analyze a model essay for a strong conclusion, transitions, and a formal style."

*   "I can write an organized argument essay about Pygmalion."

  • Let students know that now they will take one last look at the model essay for three items of critical importance to a strong argument essay: a conclusion, transitions, and formal style. This will provide them with the bridge they need to move from the planner to the actual essay draft, which they will begin today.

Work Time

Work TimeMeeting Students' Needs

A. Model Essay: Conclusion, Transitions, Formal Style (20 minutes)

  • Hand back the corrected exit tickets from Lesson 13 and remind students that the exit ticket asked them to analyze the conclusion for its claim and its restatement of reasons. Give them a moment to look over their work, and then review the answers out loud with the class:

-   Claim: "Mr. Doolittle remains true to his own self in character, even while his clothes and appearance change considerably."

-   Restatement of reasons: "due to his desire to get rid of his own daughter and keep all his fortune to himself ..."

  • Have students turn to the Conclusion box of their Pygmalion Essay Planner. Have them put their fingers on the "claim" and "restatement of reasons" sections, and point out that these are key elements of a conclusion on their planners, just as in the model essay.
  • Ask students what part of the conclusion the planner includes that students did not identify yet. Listen for: "why this view is worthy of consideration by the reader."
  • Ask students to locate the sentence that addresses "why this view is worthy of consideration by the reader" on the exit ticket from Lesson 13. Listen for: "The evidence from Act I and Act V clearly supports this view."
  • Have students turn to the New York State Expository Rubric--argument version that is in their Pygmalion Essay Planners. Ask them to find and share the place on the rubric where the conclusion is addressed. Listen for: "Coherence, Organization and Style section."
  • Point out that the conclusion is one of the most important parts of the essay, and as such is assessed directly on the rubric.
  • Next, have students turn their attention to the second "bridging" component: transitions.
  • Remind them that when they examined the Pygmalion Essay Planner for the first time, they noted that this particular component was missing. Tell them that the planner is simply an organizer for thinking; other characteristics of a strong argument essay need to be addressed, as well.
  • Ask students to find, again, the places in the Coherence, Organization and Style section that refer to transitions. Listen for "appropriate transitions" in Levels 3 and 4.
  • Ask students to remind you of what a transition word is. Listen for something like: "a word that serves to connect ideas in the text." If students state something inaccurate, "bounce" the question back to the students:

*   "How does that answer sound to everyone else?"

  • Record the correct definition on the Transitions anchor chart.
  • Have students turn again to the Pygmalion Model Essay: Alfred Doolittle, The Same As Ever. Give them a few minutes to go on a "scavenger hunt" for transition words in the text. Model the first one, using a document camera:

*   "As I skim through the text, the first transition word I see is in the introduction: howeverHowever is a transition word that tells me, the reader, that an idea is coming up that is in contrast to the idea that I have been reading about. For example: 'I am cold; however, I did not put on a jacket.' I'm going to circle however in my text."

  • Share out what other transition words students find in the text. Refer to the Model Essay: Transitions and Formal Style (for teacher reference) for possible answers.
  • As a class, have students brainstorm other transitions they can use in their essays and record them on the Transitions anchor chart. Listen for answers such as: "therefore," "additionally," "as a result," and "on the other hand."
  • Remind students that this list will remain posted as they write their essays, and that they should include transitions in their writing wherever they will make the ideas clearer and more clearly connected.
  • Tell students that lastly, they will examine the model essay for formal style.
  • Refer students one last time to the Coherence, Organization and Style section on their New York State Expository Writing Rubric--argument version. Ask:

*   "In Level 3, the rubric states that a 'formal style' includes two things. What two things are they?"

  • Give students time to find and share the answer. Listen for: "precise language and domain-specific vocabulary."
  • Explain that these two elements are the key to creating a formal tone. Note that when we write informally--for example, when texting or sending an email to a friend--we don't generally worry about using words precisely. In fact, we often take a lot of shortcuts to make the writing as easy as possible. This is perfectly fine, but something different is required when we are writing formally for school or for our jobs. Y0u may wish to give or show an example here of formal writing that you do within school.
  • Look at the first paragraph of the model essay together. Conduct a brief "think-aloud" about how the paragraph creates a formal tone. Say something like:

*   "First, by skimming the paragraph, I can see right away that there aren't any emoticons or texting language--those are informal, and we're sticking with formal style here. Next, I can see that words and phrases like 'it is said' and 'impoverished' are used. These are very precise choices. They don't just say 'here's a quote' or 'Alfred Doolittle was poor.' The author finds the most precise, sophisticated word choice she can. Lastly, I see the word 'internally.' That's a domain-specific vocabulary word, meaning it's a word we use within a specific subject; we've been using it throughout the whole module as we study Pygmalion. Other domain-specific words are 'evidence' and 'claim,' for example."

  • Emphasize that you expect students to do their best to create a formal style. The best way to do this, as the rubric indicates, is to be very mindful about their word choice as they write. Remind them that vocabulary reference materials such as dictionaries and thesauri can be used at any time while they draft.
  • Sum up by pointing out that everything they need to know about these three aspects of strong argumentative writing is on the rubric. The students should have it next to them as they write, along with their essay planner.
  • Consider modifying this portion of the lesson in the following ways:

-   By choosing a very small bank of transitions ahead of time (no more than three), teaching them formally, and requiring their use in the essay. You could also modify this bank for advanced learners with more sophisticated or challenging transitions.

-   By providing and defining some key formal phrases or vocabulary and requiring students to use them in their drafts.

-   By creating a visual analog of "formal" and "informal" by posting two pictures of formal and informal clothing.

-   By providing a cloze "frame" for the conclusion.

  • One of the goals of the scaffolding in the previous lessons is to support all students in writing their essays, including SPED students and ELLs. As much as possible, this draft should be done independently. However, there is space during Work Time B to check in with students who need more support.
  • In order to give more support, consider:

-   Prompting them to look at their essay planner to remind them of their claim and/or the evidence they gathered.

-   Asking questions like: "How does that evidence support your claim?" or "How are those ideas connected?"

-   Reminding them of the resources available to help them.

B. Begin Essay Writing (15 minutes)

  • Ask students to begin writing their essay. Remind them of the following:

-   They should use the ideas and evidence in their planners to write their essay drafts.

-   They will turn in their drafts at the end of the next lesson.

-   They will have the opportunity to revise for conventions after they get their first draft back.

  • Emphasize the importance of saving their work often (if they are using computers). Let them know in what form (email, printed, saved to server, etc.) they will be turning in their draft at the end of the class.
  • As students are working, circulate around the room. Since this is an assessment, students should work independently.

Closing & Assessments


A. "One Thing I Learned Is ..."/Review Learning Targets (5 minutes)

  • Have students review the learning targets for today.
  • Ask them to turn to a partner and discuss:

*   "What's one thing I have learned today about conclusions, transitions, or formal style?"

  • Cold call several students for their answers. Listen for answers such as: "I learned I shouldn't use text language in an essay" or "I should think about using transitions to make my ideas clearer while I draft."
  • Distribute the Pygmalion essay goal-setting sheet.


  • Complete the Pygmalion essay goal-setting sheet.

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